Let the best gift we give be the tiny footprint we leave behind in the snow.
Typically the holidays are a time of excess, but they don’t have to be. We would like to challenge our readers to, at the very least, pare back on waste, buy less, shop more consciously and travel more sustainably.
Below we’ve provided some simple tips for:
- decorating sustainably;
- choosing a tree that is green in more ways than one; and, of course,
At LIV, we design for a living. We love every aspect of designing a space to suit a mood. At Christmas, we get to rethink our homes, decorating them elegantly and festively to reflect the best of the season.
To do so sustainably can be a challenge given all the beautiful holiday chachkas tempting us at every turn. But be disciplined. Check yourself. Do you really need new decorations? Can you repurpose what you already have?
Less is More
At LIV we very much value this design aesthetic and believe, fundamentally, that a light decorating touch can be the most effective. Keep your decorations simple.
Invest in quality
If you do buy decorative items, consider their quality to ensure they endure. Choose items that you will treasure every year when you pull them from storage.
Decorate with natural materials
Opt for natural wreaths, seasonal berry stems, garlands of everygreens like pine, cedar, magnolia or holly rather than purchasing store-bought plastic knick knacks. Simply add an eucalyptus or olive branch to a vase or use what you find in your back yard like pine cones and branches to bring the outdoors in. Greenery is a simple way to incorporate nature into our indoor spaces and remind us of our connection to the natural world.
And once the holiday season is over, you can compost all these items rather than store them.
Candles and Lights
The holiday season is made more magical by candles and strings of lights. Choose LED lighting and use a timer to prevent excess energy use.
When choosing candles, choose beeswax or traceable soy wax candles for the cleanest burn. Do your best away to stay away from burning paraffin candles; they are made from a petroleum by-product, harm the air quality of your home, are non-sustainable and resource-heavy to produce. Read your candle labels carefully and recycle the container.
Living in British Columbia, we are fortunate to have an abundance of trees available to us – Noble, Douglas and Fraser firs, Hemlocks and many more. Most have all been purposely cultivated organically at tree farms in BC and they can be chipped and recycled for mulch. Buying a real tree supports family-owned businesses and often helps charities and schools raise money for worthy causes. You could also consider a live potted tree that can eventually be planted outside. In Vancouver, you can even rent a potted Christmas tree, keep it alive and then return it after the season is over!
However, if you live in less verdant areas of the world, consider the fossil fuels burned to transport live Christmas trees to your area. In cases like this (and allergies), the most green decision might be to purchase an artificial tree that you will use year over year or a house plant that will live beyond the holiday season and add fashionable greenery to your living space. Even better, look for a second hand one – the second hand tree will have off-gassed most of its VOCs already.
Gifts must always be given with the recipient in mind and now with earth in mind as well. The simplest way to reduce at holiday season is to simply buy less. However, the season is a time to express gratitude and appreciation and to remind us all of what and who is truly important. Here are some ways to help you recognize the important people in your lives more sustainably.
LIV’s tips for sustainable gift-giving:
- Ethically – Be the change you want to see in the world and buy organic, fair trade, living wage, plastic free and sustainable products. Consider gifts that encourage eco-friendly living. Help your mother or brother use less plastic wrap and give them some LIV beeswax wraps available in our “Mini HoLIVday Set” or a reusable bottle, flask or straw for that person who doesn’t want to stain their teeth like.
- Locally – Buying locally created or manufactured products and/or simply supporting local gift shops, keeps money in your local economy helping your community and your neighbours. Consider our LIV designed, beautifully-crafted, keepsake holiday cards available in our shop.
- Creatively – This is the best time to create and gift something you’ve made yourself – food or otherwise. Take this time to brush up on your baking skills and create your own delicious gifts. A package of homemade biscotti, fudge or shortbread is always welcome! Alternatively, put that knitting hobby to a test and knit a pair of socks or mitts or illustrate your own holiday cards. The options are as endless as your creativity!
- Lightly-used – With younger generations leading the charge, the growth of the resale market has been monumental and thanks to a number of online platforms like thredUP, choices aren’t restricted to a thrift store’s dusty racks. No longer is ‘thrift’ the primary reason for shopping second-hand; it has been replaced by sustainability.
And, if everyone bought one used item this year instead of new, it could save nearly 6 pounds of CO2 emissions – that’s equivalent to removing half a million cars off the road for a year. That is a remarkable statistic so you may want to seriously consider giving something unique and vintage or pass on an ‘heirloom’ to a grateful recipient.
- Experiences– As people continue to embrace simplicity and spurn clutter, don’t buy any ’thing’ at all. Give an experience instead. An experience will typically encourage the recipient to broaden their horizons by participating in a new activity, visiting a new place or taking in an event. Think museum or gym membership, cooking classes, concert tickets, or restaurant gift card.
Gift Wrapping Sustainably
Lastly, when you wrap, consider using the Furoshiki method using a cloth or scarf eliminating the need for wrapping paper and plastic tape.
Or, if you are still committed to paper:
- Use recycled/recyclable product, brown craft paper
- Repurpose newspaper or magazines
- Challenge yourself to use 2-3 pieces of tape only.
- If you can’t resist buying a roll, choose matte vs. shiny paper as it is recyclable while shiny paper is usually not.
- Tie it all up using jute or twine, a simple branch or berry twig and add one of LIV’s custom-designed gift tags to complete the present.
Ultimately, LIV believes the best gift you can give is time and presence – Our design team wishes this for you and yours.
Check out our shop for limited edition, locally designed products.